WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

About Abuse

LGBTQ Victims

June 21, 2012

What are the unique obstacles faced by transgender victims of domestic violence when they reach out for help?

Transgender victims often have even more difficulty finding help and support for domestic violence than gay, lesbian and bisexual victims of abuse.  In general, there is less awareness about issues specific to transgender people than there is about lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals.  LGBTQ victims of domestic violence may have to overcome homophobia and/or transphobia from service providers when trying to find help for the domestic violence they are experiencing.

Here are some of the unique challenges faced by transgender victims of domestic violence:

  • Service providers may not recognize or acknowledge that abuse does not conform to typical gender roles and that people with any gender identity may be victims or abusers.
  • Previous past experiences with healthcare or law enforcement workers may make victims more cautious about seeking out help, as victims might expect to face transphobia and/or discrimination.
  • Transgender victims may feel uncomfortable going to a single-sex (“male” or “female”) shelter, as they may be forced to go to a shelter that does not serve persons matching their gender identity, or be unable to be served at all.
  • The fear of losing custody of children may prevent a transgender victim from seeking out help for domestic violence.
  • The number of organizations that specialize in transgender issues/domestic violence may be very few, even in a big city.
  • Advocates and other public service workers may incorrectly assume that all transgender people are involved in S/M and therefore want to be abused.
  • The abuser may be the only person the victim is "out" to, which increases the victim's sense of isolation and intensifying his or her fear of leaving the abuser in a transphobic society.*

* This information has been adapted from information compiled by FORGE - see "Transgender/SOFFA: Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Resource Sheet."